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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

The Distinctive Life in Christ

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

(2 Corinthians 7:1)

We have this daily struggle: to be in the world but never of it. Our new spirit longs for the righteousness by which and with which it was born when we followed Jesus Christ. But our body still lives in the world.

The promises made to us by God will naturally compel us to see daily holiness formed in us. And, holiness will be continually formed in us until the day when this body gives way to the heavenly body and ultimately our eternal body, and our being made holy is complete.

The promises upon which the challenge of the above verse are founded, refer to much of what Paul has spoken in the first six chapters. The final words of chapter six are the most important. “ Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (1 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Being the children of God, we are to live separate, ie distinct from the world from which we were rescued and in which we still live. So much of what we hear today actually calls this into question. We are told: “We are to love with no questions, no boundaries, no sense of the role of God’s judgment in which His love is wrapped, and absolutely, no calling the worldly rebellious life around us into question, whether it is found in believer or non believer.”

We are to do nothing that might make a person uncomfortable, that might “risk” their exposure to a message of the Gospel. A gospel which strangely sounds nothing like the Gospel that comes out of the mouth of Jesus!

This passage in 1 Corinthians brings much of this thinking into question. And, I think for two reasons 1. Our lives are more important than our actions. Yes, that’s what I said. For, if our lives are so out of sync with whatever words we do or do not say, the message of redemption is muddied. God can still use as many imperfect people and means as He choses. But, this exceptional acting on the behalf of God, is not His preferred method.

His people are His design. They have been cleansed from their former rebellion and alienation from God. As they reject the life from which they were rescued, and allow the Spirit of God to grow holiness in choices and actions, they and their words begin to agree together with the newness of life that they have received.

Second, it is our unity IN our apartness that has most often been the power of the Gospel. Catchy phrases. New ways of looking at the Gospel. Bells and whistles in our church gatherings. Even taking steps to minister to the human needs of people. None of these, and more, have been the “key” to winning people to Jesus and His gospel.

It is the shocking impact of a life changed which calls most to those who have been chosen in Christ since before the foundation of the world. Yes, God does use many other things to call people’s attention to His Gospel and His promised judgment. Most of these things leave residues of debate.

A life that was once as self centered as any, was as unloving of spouse as those all around us, was as stingy, and complaining and as manipulative as everyone else, and, now we see all of that turning upside down, what explanations are we left with? The incarnation of growing holiness is a difficult reality to debate!

This brings us full cycle back to my original contention: our lives are more important than our “ministries.” For they either corroborate or they bring into question what we say!

We have a great need every day to cleanse the defilement of flesh and spirit. To guard our hearts and minds in such a way as to give the Spirit of God and the word of God access to correction and maturation. All of the bells and whistles of Christian movies, blogs, sermons, books, etc., will never replace the maturing life of one who was blind but now sees!


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